U.S. equity markets opened moderately lower this morning as investors waited for the afternoon announcement from the FOMC. Mortgage purchase applications were down in the U.S. as interest rates rose again. In Europe, Spain reported an unexpected trade deficit, while in Asia, Japan’s adjusted trade deficit was slightly lower as exports rose about 10%.The FOMC announcement was not really unexpected, but investors pushed shares down as the general interpretation seemed to be that Fed asset purchases will begin to taper off sometime.
The U.S. dollar index is trading up 1.1% today, now at 81.4720. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.4% at 633.01. WTI crude oil closed down fractionally today, at $98.24 a barrel following the EIA inventory report. Brent crude trades up 0.1% at $106.10 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.4% today at about $3.96 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 0.5% today at $1,374.00, but pulled back some in electronic trading following the FOMC announcement.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down about 206 points to 15,112.27 (-1.34%), the NASDAQ fell about 39 points (-1.12%) to 3,443.20, and the S&P 500 fell -1.39% or nearly 23 points to 1,628.93.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:
- BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) cut to ‘underperform’ at Bernstein;
- Gevo Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO) raised to ‘outperform’ at Raymond James;
- The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) started as ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse;
- Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ: SONC) raised to ‘equal weight’ at Morgan Stanley; and
- Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) cut to ‘neutral’ at Macquarie.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:
- Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) is up 6.3% at $46.07 after solid earnings and
- FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) is up 1.9% at $101.38 even though the forecast was weak.
Before markets open tomorrow morning, we are scheduled to get earnings reports from Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL), and Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR).
Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:
Bluebird Bio Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) is up 51.8% at $25.80. The biotechnology company held its IPO today.
Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp. (NASDAQ: OSH) is down 57.8% at $0.73. The home improvement and garden supply store is being bought out of bankruptcy.
Stay tuned for Thursday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 8:30 a.m. – New claims for unemployment benefits
- 8:58 a.m. – Flash manufacturing PMI
- 10:00 a.m. – New home sales
- 10:00 a.m. – Philadelphia Fed survey
- 10:00 a.m. – Leading indicators
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly natural gas storage report
- 1:00 p.m. – 30-year TIPS auction
- 4:30 p.m. – Fed balance sheet and money supply